Rayo fans tire of owners’ greed

 “You are the pride of a working class town and have no fear, because in Vallecas you will never be alone.”

The above are words to a chant sung by Rayo Vallecano fans at every game. The Vallecas club’s support is renowned for their inventive songs, but this is possibly the one that best captures the spirit of this unique set of fans.

As then Coach Pepe Mel put it in 2008: “This is a humble, working class town. Many of our fans earn below the average wage, but every weekend they can’t wait to watch their team.

“About a million people live in Vallecas, and we are the team of this city. This means that when you work for this team, the fans have a huge impact on you.”

Unfortunately, the same could not be said of Rayo’s board of directors, who, for the second season in a row, have made this Sunday’s visit of Real Madrid a ‘day to help the club’, obliging season ticket holders to buy their own tickets to the game, at a cost of €25 for adults. The same policy will be in place for the visit of Barcelona in October.

Rayo’s players, who two seasons ago wore t-shirts before games bearing the slogan ‘The fans and the players, united by a feeling’, continued their tradition of showing solidarity with supporters and were quick to speak out against the policy, thus defying the men who – sometimes – pay their wages.

 “I think that now is not the right time to be doing this, given the economic crisis,” said captain Francisco Medina Piti.

“A lot of people are struggling to just pay for their season tickets so to make them pay for two extra games I think is unfair. I hope people will be able to pay for their tickets, but it's very difficult to ask them to pay anymore because they already pay enough.”

Piti’s fears appear to be justified. Just a day before the match, 5,000 tickets, a third of the capacity of the Estadio de Vallecas, remained unsold. Last season the club got away with the policy because Real Madrid hadn’t been to Vallecas for nine years, but now it seems as if the fans, with some justification, have had enough of being ripped off.

All this plays perfectly into the hands of Real Madrid, who are still yet to register a single point away from home this season. Madrid were imperious away from home last term, scoring 51 goals on their travels and failing to win just three times, but even they struggled in the hostile Vallecas atmosphere last February. Jose Mourinho’s side scraped a narrow 1-0 win thanks to a brilliant back-heeled goal by Cristiano Ronaldo, a awe-inspiring save by Iker Casillas, and a generous referee.

Casillas admitted it was Madrid’s hardest game of the season while Mourinho commented that: ‘”everyone agrees Rayo did not deserve to lose”, and even gave the home fans a thumbs up at the end of the game.

Rayo are no pushovers, but will present less of a threat with a stadium that is far from full. Although Paco Jemez’s cash-strapped side have made a better start to the season than many expected and are three points clear of Madrid at the moment, they were found out last week by Atletico Madrid, who netted three goals against them in seven minutes.

Part of the problem was that Rayo were playing with just three defenders and were outnumbered by a ferocious Atletico attack. Jemez has said he will revert to a usual back four to cope with Real Madrid, but promised his team will not be overly cautious.

“I want our full-backs to get forward 20,000 times. We have to cause them damage and play in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable, and make them worry about us.”

Although Real Madrid may have had their worst start to a League season in 10 years, they are clear favourites going into the game, on the back of their enthralling 3-2 victory over Manchester City. They also have history on their side – no other visiting team has won as many times in Vallecas as Madrid, and they haven’t lost there for 15 years.

But Jemez still remembers beating Real Madrid 2-0 as a Rayo player in December 1992 and now wants to do it again as a Coach, 20 years later.

“One advantage we have is that we have nothing to lose. If we lose the game there won’t be an outcry, because they are expected to win nine times out of 10. What we’re going to try and do is make tomorrow the day when Rayo win.”

La Liga - Club News